Monday, August 2, 2010

Stalked By A Story


Last week, I had friends in for dinner. As the wine flowed so did the conversation. Friends since school days there were reminiscences of first loves and mad capers. Remembering those, we haven’t seen in way too long and those who died way too young.

Being of a certain age, the conversation eventually turned to the triumphs and disappointments in our lives. Our worlds no longer viewed with rose coloured glasses. Each of us accepting in varying degrees life’s disappointments. Coming to terms with the glare and harshness of our individual realities. Some of us spoke too much, some too little.


As the night wore on, it suddenly dawned on me, I had written a story about my contribution to the disappointments in life, remembering I stored it on an old USB. The next day I searched for and found the USB and discovered the story. On reading it, I surmised it was a perfect example of free writing. In other words beyond terrible!!!


So, I did a bit of tweaking here and another bit there and before I knew it, I had spent the best part of the day working on it. I woke the following morning with revamped sentences rolling around in my head. I worked on replacing my passive “to be” verb sentences all day yesterday. Turning them into rip roaring active sentences. Going back to it again last night. This is how I have spent the last four days.

I woke up this morning at 5AM unable to get back to sleep due to new pesky active sentences swirling around in my head. Are they good sentences? I won’t know until tomorrow morning. I would like to leave this story, but it refuses to leave me. So I guess I just have to stick with it until those refused to be ignored pesky active sentences stop waking me up at ungodly hours in the morning.

Yes!!! Readability Statistics informs me I have 0% passive sentences in the above.
I must be learning something!

29 comments:

Michael Farry said...

Well done Ann. Nothing one ever writes is useless. It can always be looked at again, reworked, revised, reworked, revised into something worth while. It's the words and sentences that are difficult

Old Kitty said...

Oh Ann!!! You can't leave that story behind - it'll haunt you even more!! :-) I'm so glad you returned to it though and well done you for active sentencing!! Yay!!

That's the great thing I'm discovering too. When I first started writing seriously years ago I thought I knew it all. Now as I re-read some of my very first stories I cringe with so much embarassment, there isn't a hole wide enough to swallow me whole!! LOL!!!

I truly believe writing is an ongoing infinite lesson and the more you practice, the better and more perfect your stories become!

Take care
x

Christine said...

Hello Ann. I recently began following your blog. This post resounded with my own experience; revisiting stories, revamping them, then being happier with the result. I'm also all too familiar with the sentences swirling around in the brain in the middle of the night. Best wishes.

KarenG said...

What a neat experience! It sounds like a great story, and your evening sounds like something I would want to read about if it were a book.

Susan Fields said...

Let's hear it for active verbs! Sometimes it's so much fun to rip a story apart, banishing those pesky passive verbs.

Good luck with your story!

Rosalind Adam said...

What a sombre subject, life's disappointments. I'm so glad you managed to turn it into a positive by reworking your remembered story. Hope it turns into a good one.

Jan Morrison said...

Excellent post! Sometimes we choose stories and sometimes they choose us. Sounds like you've been chosen and will have to find out what it wants you to do next. The Story Whisperer...
Jan Morrison

Clarissa Draper said...

I think that's wonderful. I should go back and review the writing I've done long ago.
CD

Patricia Stoltey said...

You're absolutely right, Ann. When a story or character grabs you and won't let go until the story is told, you might as well give in and run with it. Otherwise, it will drive you nuts.

Theresa Milstein said...

Ann, how wonderful you got so involved with your story. You were on fire! Keep writing.

Karen Walker said...

Yeah for you, Ann. When something grabs hold of us like that, I think we do ourselves a disservice if we ignore it. Sounds like a wonderful experience and something that will become quite meaningful as you continue to work on it.
Karen

Words A Day said...

I think that the story won't leave you alone is a really good sign, (keep your first draft to compare with your final one - in rare cases a passive sentence suits what you're trying to express better than an active one...) I like how you descibe the process - This sounds like the story is really happening for you - possessing you, thats brilliant!

Mary said...

Hi Ann, sounds like that story is challenging the writer within you and if you listen carefully you will probably hear the gentle whispering of 'more, more, write more ...'. Think Jan may have uncovered something there with The Story Whisperer!

loveable_homebody said...

I don't believe that active sentences can be pesky! I'm glad you had such a good writing day, but can relate to your frustration about editing the story and trying to like it more.

I liked how you started off this post by describing that conversation, with wine flowing. Perhaps the wine helped to bring out talk about disappointment?

Jen said...

Cheers to learning!!! I love when things grab a hold of us like that!!!

Ann Best said...

Revising, revising, revising. That's what writing is all about. This is obviously an important story for you. I'm cheering you on. Don't give it up.
Ann

Hold my hand: a social worker's blog said...

Oh Ann, how brave of you by going back to that story. And it was worth it!

P.S. Thanks for stopping by, and for your lovely comment :-))

Doris Plaster, a social worker's blog

Lola Sharp said...

When a story stalks, one must heed the call. I always take it as a 'sign' I'm meant to write it. Even if its only purpose is to reinforce craft, than it is worth your time and effort.

Happy Monday, Ann. And, Happy belated birthday. :)

Love,
Lola

Jackee said...

Wonderful, Ann! It's amazing how some stories hold on to us and refuse to let go. When one spark ignites our memory, it's there, just as powerful as before.

Of course you're learning and getting better and better--because you are open to change and practice.

Keep up the good work, friend!

Summer said...

I have that problem with stories I edit for other people, sometimes I have to wait to click send cause there is a nagging in the back of my head telling me, there's something important to say- and then I'll wake up the next day knowing exactly what it is and finally post it out.

... and that's all said...

"Readability Statistics informs me I have 0% passive sentences in the above" -

... so an active sentence!

mise said...

Now that's a revelation: I've never thought of sentences as active or passive. I suspect most of mine are just a bit twitchy.

Susannah said...

I am looking forward to reading the end result Ann! I hope it lets you get some sleep in the meantime. ;-)

Paul C said...

There's nothing better than coming back to an old story you've written. Glaring errors jump back at you, but there is still the kernel of a good story worth refining.

Tabitha Bird said...

Sometimes stories beg to be written. They won't let go until we do.
All the best with that one.

thanks for finding my blog :)

Roland D. Yeomans said...

Revising the past. Isn't that what politicians do all the time?

Congrats on growing and learning. Many just exist, not living and evolving.

Have a great end of week, Roland

Barbara Scully said...

Ann this sounds like the post of a real writer.. that you had written something that suddenly had to be revisited. Your post is full of energy and excitement about this project which is a good sign. Keep writing and editing... I have no doubt it will be great! And look foward to reading it someday!

Lua said...

I know the feeling :) I usually go back and ‘visit’ my old stories, perform minor surgeries on them and sometimes they surprise me with their good looks!

Al said...

At least the thing keeping you awake was a pleasurable. If I get fixated on something in bed it is usually some useless triviality.